Well, the first reason is to try something different. Another reason is Free-style cruising which I am very personally very excited about. I think it is a great idea to have dinner from 6:00 to 12:00 and let you come whenever you want to. Personally, I hate formal nights, and on free-style you can choose not to go to the areas of the ship where formal dress is required - that's a big difference. On my last Princess cruise I was a prisoner in my cabin all night because i didnt feel like donning my tux!
See the pic of the NCL Sky reminded me of when we saw her in Alaska. I noticed that the balcony cabins had a glass door but other than that, no floor to ceiling windows. Just a porthole. Personally I thought this was pretty silly. Think that was maybe a DUH moment for the ship's designers.
My wife and I were on the Norway this past March. We sailed on her primarily because we wanted to see this classic ship. Although we read several comments expressing concerns about NCL ships, food, etc. , we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. In fact, we thought it one of the best we had been on. The cruise staff were very friendly and the "atmosphere" was nice. I can't say what the other NCL ships are like (though we will will be on the "Wind" this December- having booked it while on the Norway. That alone should say something about our enjoyment of the cruise), but the Norway certainly was great. It will be interesting to see how the changeover to "freestyle" cruising affects our perceptions of NCL.
Why?? My cruise on the Sky last February was one of the best I have taken in years. A few minor glitches aside, it was great and a great VALUE. I cruised aboad the SKY and found the food, service and especially the entertainment to be top notch.
The ship itself is gorgeous and now with the advent of "Freestyle" it makes it even more alluring to me. I'm booked on the Galaxy in October and I have these nagging pangs of guilt and remorse for not booking the Sky for the same week as I'm dying to try Freestyle.
Eat when, where and with (or without!) whom I choose, enjoy lesiurely meals in any of the restaurants and even linger over coffee, dessert and after dinner cordials to midnight if we want. And no rigid dress code to boot!
I would love to go back to the Norway just to see her. I worked on her for over 3 months as a stage manager. I always thought she was a "feel good" ship and even though all I did was go between Miami, St Thomas and St. Martin for 13 trips in a row I really enjoyed just about every minute of it.
Hi Kuki......We sailed on The Norway in 1998. We heard a rumor that she may be pulled from service on Dec. 21......actually changing from 7 day cruises to 5/2day.
When we heard the rumor we ran right out & booked a farewell cruise for Dec. 9-16.
The Norway is one of the best ships to enjoy if you want to truly have a "titanic" type experience. (And I don't mean a sinking experience!) She is so elegant & grand. Strolling down the promenade at night, close your eyes for a second--when you open them you can imagine what it feels like to walk down 5th avenue or take an evening stroll in Paris.
The service was impeccable, the staff friendly & knowledgable. There is plenty of places to go and enjoy a good cigar or pipe.
As far as the "free style" cruising goes.....I will wait to give an opinion until I have tried it out.
In the past year we have cruised on both the Sky and Celebrity's Galaxy. To be honest, I preferred the Sky. Granted, the food was marginally better on the Galaxy and the cabins were a tad larger, but overall the Sky is a much more beautiful ship (by my standards). The entertainment on the Sky was far superior as well. Overall, the quality of service was about the same. Personally, I'm looking forward to freestyle cruising. I like having the option of dressing up if I want to and I like having tips added to my bill. I always find the business of passing envelopes around to the crew on the last night somewhat demeaning. If a crew member does an exceptional job I can still reward him or her and conversely, I can withdraw a tip from someone who does not perform up to standard. I'm waiting for the rates to come out for Norwegian Sun - apparently, it will be similar to the Sky with improvements in the areas where the Sky is lacking.
Tim. Wondering just how long you will be lingering on port day evenings with long lists of other pax trying to get in to eat. Afraid staff will be tempted to rush you along, especially since your DR staff will not "yours", but rather SOME waiter and assistant.
I tend to prefer to dine later than usual (830-900 PM) So I imagine that the wait would not be so unbearable. What I like is that you have the option of setting a pre-determined time and table size with the Maitre'D or as I would prefer; just stroll in, tell the maitre'd that I want a table at such and such a time. He hands me a "pager" and off we go to have cocktails and relax until our table is ready. No "watching the clock".
As I have been told by several people who experienced Freestyle, the staff tends *not* to rush you as it sets a more leisurely pace for them and those in the kitchen. It gives the passenger and the servers more flexibility in how THEY want the service paced rather than the kitchen setting the pace.
Consumer Affairs Editorhdawson wrote:
> Tim. Wondering just how long you will be lingering on port day
> evenings with long lists of other pax trying to get in to eat.
> Afraid staff will be tempted to rush you along, especially
> since your DR staff will not "yours", but rather SOME waiter
> and assistant.
Free Style cruising is an interesting theory, and I'm sure some people will love it.
I guess I experienced free style ,to some extent,on the Seabourn Sun this spring.. we could show up our dining room table anytime we chose to during dining hours.
The difference was the dining room was large enough to seat all the passengers at one sitting. Therefore we still got "our" table, with "our" tablemates, and with no waiting. Now that I enjoyed!!
I'm intriuged by the "Freestyle Cruising" concept, since I personally dislike assigned seating. It sounds like "cruising for adults" -- you pay all this money for a vacation and you get to decide when you want to dine, which restaurant, and who you want to sit with.
When I've sailed on small ships with single, open seating I've become friendly with more people aboard ship. If you like them, you decide to dine with them again.
I want to know, however, if NCL is changing its caterer, service has been less than
adequate. IN some cases, poor in the dining rooms. But if they improve this one area, I think it could be wonderful.
The reason for the odd porthole layout is that the Nor Sky was started as a hull for Costa. NCL took over the hull and the balconies were true add-ons, note that the Costa Victoria with basically the same hull has no balconies. Since the hull had been built it made sense to cut the opening for the balcony door and simply leave the porthole as is.
I am sure the new Norwegian Sun will have a balcony window arrangement more to your liking.
Let's try this another way. Why should you NOT try NCL??
Personally I have sailed them 5 times over an eleven year period. Given your most recent cruises I think that you would most enjoy NCL Sky or the upcoming Sun. But I always say that everyone should try the Norway at least once, for a taste of cruising of old. Unfortunately, she is not in the prime of life now but she certainly offers a cruise experience that is quite different from most. Just be sure to avoid the coffin cabins!
Friends of mine sailed on Norwegian Majesty's 8/27 cruise and came back raving about freestyle. The key points that they said were:
1) They ate at different times each night depending on when they were hungry not because the clock said it was time to eat and how late they came back to the ship each day.
2) They never had to wait for a table no matter what time they arrived
3) The food arrived fresher, hot when it was supposed to be hot, chilled when supposed to be chilled
4) The wait staff seemed much more relaxed. Gone were the waiters coming back with a tray of 20 plates and the scurrying around to get everyone served at the same time.
5) Some nights they ate with people they met earlier in the day, some days they took pot-luck, some days they requested a table for two. If an actual two-top wasn't available, a four-top was provided and two settings removed.
6) They decided to leave the formal clothes home (even though they do like to dress formally). They liked not having to end their day early to allow enough time to dress formally.
7) They never once felt rushed to finish their meal.
8) They slept late on debarkation day, went to breakfast, returned to their cabin to pick up their carryons, and walked off the ship.
They concluded that they didn't know if they'd ever be able to go back to "traditional" cruising again, it was so relaxing.
Of all the cruise lines I've tried, NCL is my least favorite. Granted, when I sailed on the Windward (now Norwegian Wind), the company was just coming out of a period of severe financial difficulty and I know that some of this was reflected in the food and service. But though NCL is now in a much better financial position, I still hear lots of mediocre reports about its ships.
Unless NCL is doing a unique itinerary that you are dying to try (as was the case when I sailed on the Wind in 1997), for the same money I'd go with Princess, HAL, RCI, etc.